Kia Picanto Si
Indicative drive away price: $14,990
As the entry point into Australia’s new car market, the Micro category is all about affordable, city-focused motoring for the budget-conscious buyer.
The Kia Picanto Si five-door hatchback epitomises this. It is small, affordable to own and operate, easy to drive and, most importantly, has a five-star ANCAP safety rating.
Picanto gets the jump on its competitors in the value for money stakes with an attractive drive-away price of $14,990, low insurance costs and a class-leading list of standard features. It is a single-spec model only, with a four-cylinder engine, whereas some others in the class employ three-cylinder powerplants. An automatic transmission is the standard fit, rather than an extra cost option.
The value and reassurance of Kia’s lengthy seven-year/unlimited-kilometre warranty, as well as low servicing and repair costs, should not be underestimated either. If you decide to sell the car after five years, however, based on Glass’s Guide predictive values, you may lose a little more money than others in the class.
The combination of Kia’s 1.2-litre engine and a conventional four-speed automatic delivers a pleasing mix of relatively nippy performance and economical fuel consumption that is well suited to the everyday requirements for this type of city-centric car. And even on the open road at 100km/h, it is a competent enough performer, given the small capacity engine’s modest power and torque output.
With European-tuned suspension, the handling around town is nimble, making Picanto easy to manoeuvre and fun to drive. Its ride quality is also one of the best in the class. Kia employs disc brakes all round for Picanto, whereas most other Micro cars and many in the Light car categories, have stuck with the older style front-disc/rear-drum combination.
In keeping with its rivals, you can see a few signs that this smart-looking European design and Korean-built car has been manufactured to a price, but generally speaking it is solidly constructed and the trimming has a neat, durable appearance.
There’s no denying Picanto is tiny, but for a car of its size the interior space is used efficiently. The front seats provide better than expected comfort and support, while all the controls are conveniently placed and simple to use. Not unexpectedly, seating three across the back, even for small children, is going to be a real squeeze. Two adults, however, will find there is more rear leg room than you’d imagine and the head room is also quite good. Boot space is modest, but the split/fold rear seats add a little extra versatility. It was disappointing, although again not surprising, to find that Picanto carries only a space-saver spare wheel.
Although Picanto is new to the Australian market, it is a proven package that has been on sale overseas for a few years. As such, the older design is not quite as high-tech as you find in some of the cars in more expensive categories, but for this budget-focused arena Picanto has all the right ingredients and delivers in a way that will suit most buyers.
1ST: KIA PICANTO, 754
2ND: MITSUBISHI MIRAGE ES, 712
3RD: HOLDEN SPARK LS, 668